Functioning primarily out of our soul results in division, fear, recklessness and arrogance.
Social media has been distressing to my spirit this year. Really, all media has been, including the few sources that might be considered trustworthy. I'll be the first to admit it's easy to dive into debates at a soul level, arguing logic that seems so obvious while being legitimately confused at how anybody else just cannot see it the same way.
Everything from masks to President Trump to racism has polarized our nation. The damage left in the wake of the raging debates has been devastating. More concerning, the church has been caught up in the exact same soul-level social battles.
When our soul leads the way in our debates and decisions, the results can be quite toxic. We've seen fear and division overcome the people of the “home of the brave.” Arrogance has been masquerading as authority and recklessness as freedom.
The soul is the center of emotions and logic, and without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, arguments initiated from that level are not to be trusted. Powerful emotions with the help of seemingly obvious logic will convince people they are functioning from a place of wisdom when in truth they are reacting in fear. Faith is eliminated from the equation. Wisdom (fear) trumps faith when we don't live, breathe, pray and walk in the Spirit.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:25-26 (NIV)
DIVISION IS NOT ALWAYS NEGATIVE
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– 36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' Matthew 10:34-36 (NIV)
The true church will always introduce division simply because of the topics we are promoting. There is an agenda. Jesus made it clear that ecumenical unity wasn't his goal. World peace wasn't the focus.
We can expect division when the Gospel is preached. When revival hits, people will be split like the Red Sea with many running to the altar and many running out the back door.
Many pastors today are attempting to avoid the very necessary schisms that clearly define the remnant and the pretenders. Truth rightly presented demands decisions. In the end the Final Judgment will bring the greatest division of all, separating the sheep and the goats for all humanity to see.
Many Christians have attempted to apply this principle of biblical division to their own humanistic stubborn opinions. They celebrate as their pet positions cause others to get riled up and split off. They feel spiritual, but this is soul-level activity and it is grieving to the Lord.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another… Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)
Preach the Word of God and, often times, you can expect division.
Preach masks, politics, the Constitution and on the racial issues of the day? We as Spirit-filled, blood-bought children of the King should speak with great love and grace. Is there ever a time to strike against wicked arguments with force and precision? Absolutely. But, not from our soul. This type of engagement must be led fully by the Spirit.
WHAT IS GOD SAYING?
Church, it's time to come up higher. In this toxic season of politics, sickness, murder and distress, we need to resist the urge to function from our soul. It's time to minister from our spirits.
We've heard all of the arguments about masks, both pro and con. We know all of the reasons people are going to vote for Trump or Biden. People are dogmatic about taking a knee or not. The memes and GIFS and posts and rants about all of these volatile issues and others have become predictable — and nauseating.
Where are those who have emerged from their closets of intercession, those who have a clear word from the Lord? Where is the tangible anointing that pierces through arguments? In this critical, historic hour, where are the true prophets?
Understand, this doesn't mean we can't discuss issues at a logical level. I'm not even saying the soul (emotions and logic) should be minimized. God gave us a soul and he will certainly cause us to speak intelligently and even passionately on secular matters, with wisdom, love and clarity. Debates and discussions can be beneficial. The critical call, however, for every Christian, is to do so with the mind of Christ.
The greater the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the more impacting our words will be. I would challenge you to disengage from the madness that has bewitched so much of the world and the church. Pull back. Stop functioning mostly from your soul. Don't get so excited about your logic. Be teachable. Die to your own opinions. Speak truth under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and people will be absolutely confounded.
When the truth you speak causes both people and demons to react, you know you've moved from soul-level arguments to spirit-driven, authoritative declarations:
22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. Mark 1:22-28 (NIV)
TAKE A BREAK
As I said above, it's easy to get sucked into the soul-level debates of the day. And, as I said, not all of these debates are unhealthy. However, a whole bunch of them are.
They can distract those who are supposed to be functioning in the realm of the Spirit and cause us to fight in the flesh. If your revelations on the matters of the day aren't burning with anointing, take a break. If you aren't having dreams and visions about how to address the madness of this hour, take a break.
Seriously. Resist the urge and stop posting to Facebook. I'm not talking about the infamous month-long breaks from social media that people regularly announce. Those folks are back and active usually in less than 24-hours.
I'm talking about going deeper in God than you ever have. See the futility of your arguments. Humble yourself. Finally understand that nobody needs to hear what your soul has to say. Find your prayer closet and discover what God is yearning to reveal to our nation.
The whole world will want to hear what you have to say then.
All it took was a health scare to expose a negative spirit in many American Christians.
22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)
It saddens me quite deeply to see a famously strong American people have their spirits so easily and thoroughly crushed by our recent crisis. However, the reaction of the American people pales in comparison to how disappointing the response of many Christians is. Faith-walkers have surrendered that distinction for one of nervous caution. Walking by sight and not by faith has been the nearly instantaneous shift many have adopted as an invisible enemy has threatened their safety.
Of the weapons God has provided for us to win battles and counteract the assaults of the enemy, I wonder if joy just may be among the most supreme. Instead of scouring the internet in search of the perfect mix of vitamins, supplements, essential oils and unproven medicines to combat a medical threat, the Word of God states clearly that joy is the good medicine we need!
SOCIAL MEDIA REVEALS A LOT
It's telling when Believers in Jesus are posting non-stop everything negative, threatening and discouraging they can find, most of it from the compromised liberal media. This toxic negativity is doing great damage to many and it must stop immediately.
11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:11 (ESV)
Continuing to spew fearful statistics, hyped news reports and other information without clearly communicating that we as the children of God are victorious overcomers and that we will fight this giant in joyful, fearless faith, it is defiling to us. Speaking or typing out dread, nervousness, hyper-caution, worry or fear does great damage to our spirits. It crushes us. It crushes many who are hearing or reading our dire reports as well. Instead of ministering life, hope, faith and victory, too many Believers are pawns in the enemy's hands, messengers of pending disaster.
It's astonishing how messages of fearlessness and faith and a resolve to stand against this foe in our nation are met with anger, often by Christians! They have determined our faith is threatening their safety and that our holy confidence is foolishness. Truth be told, when faith meets fear, those who live in fear can become quite enraged indeed.
WHO WILL STAND AGAINST THIS UNCIRCUMCISED PHILISTINE?
26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26 (ESV)
This young man would have nothing to do with a paralyzed nation. He refused to be intimidated, and his great, godly resolve was met with initial resistance, not from Goliath, but from his own people. Not only was Goliath positioned against David, his threats resulted in David's very own family turning against him. As if Goliath's army wasn't enough, now he had the help of those in David's camp in shutting him down.
28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 1 Samuel 17:28 (ESV)
The moment a faith-filled Believer determines to move forward in the face of fear is the moment those who are timid, cautious and tentative will launch their attack against them. Accusations will fly. They will determine that people of faith are presumptuous, driven by an evil heart just as Eliab did with David.
Additionally, in this great biblical story, David rejected Saul's armor. In the same way today, God is raising up people who don't put their trust in the supposed wisdom that seems obvious to everybody else. They have an entirely different plan of action to bring destruction to a wicked assault of the enemy. When you have faith a single stone will do.
But, understand, that stone won't stop the accusations and assaults of the fearful. It won't stop those who are walking by sight and not by faith from mocking your position or methods of battle. Sadly, many in the camp of the Lord are doing all they can to silence their own brothers and sisters, people of faith who won't be intimidated by the threats that have caused everybody else to go into hiding.
17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper… Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. Psalm 91:3 (NKJV)
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. Psalm 91:5-6 (NKJV)
10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; Psalm 91:10 (NKJV)
19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19 (NKJV)
Now these are verses that should be repeated all over Facebook! Speak life!
It's unsettling that so many people who name the name of Christ are filling their social media and conversations with bad reports. They sound no different than the unredeemed of the world. This must stop immediately if we hope to be a national church that moves in great supernatural power!
If you are triggered by negative news reports regarding a virus or any other threat, you have an opportunity to reject the tendency to share the bad news. Instead, speak life! Be life-giving!
If you read bad news, don't confess it! Instead, jump on Facebook and Twitter and announce to the world that “No plague shall come near your dwelling!” Command the wicked strategies to come to nothing! Take authority and trample on the serpents! Pick up your stone and run to the battle with joy bursting forth from your heart, abundant life exploding out of your spirit and victory resounding on your lips! Allow everyone around you to be astonished that you are free, alive and not stricken by this wicked serpent as it's crushed under your feet!
Don't alert everybody to the taunts of Goliath. Don't fill up your day relaying news reports of his encroaching position. Quit warning everybody about his strength. Don't devise a defensive plan to avoid him at all costs, to lock down in hiding and to just wait it out and hope for the best. No! It's time to advance!
16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening. 1 Samuel 17:16 (ESV)
The world needs to see you posting life not death, faith not fear! Confront the evil spirit of the age that's taunting our nation! Let no defiling word, report or confession come out of your mouth!
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)
Both the lost and the church needs to hear YOU rejecting fear as you abound in unspeakable joy! Decree an overcoming testimony over this nation! Command the enemy to step back and declare with fiery boldness that our faith is more powerful than his mountain!
20 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:20-23 (ESV)
Let Psalm 27:13 and Psalm 19:14 be your meditation going forward, and fill up your conversations and social media posts with joyful, fearless, life-giving messages that focus on the goodness of the Lord, truths that will put fear into the enemies of our nation!
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Psalm 27:13 (ESV)
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (ESV)
Addressing error without compromising our credibility
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The need for people who rightly divide the truth is only going to escalate as the end-times season we are in continues to unfold. These Bereans are valuable and it would do us all well to embrace the opportunity to analyze our belief systems and to grow.
Instead, all over social media especially, we see critical and arrogant spirits assaulting others they disagree with theologically. For Christians to be rude and to operate in a spirit of accusation makes one wonder if they are saved at all. In fact, the moment we utilize methods of communication that contradict the fruits of the Spirit, we lose our credibility. Fortunately, there are many people who confirm their credibility by debating and discussing with love and honor. Communicating with them is a pleasure. However, all too often, supposed guardians of theology are zeroed in on proving their point and on shaming all who disagree. On the contrary, the shame is on them as they attempt to demoralize and invalidate people’s ministry. The focus is on mistakes, errors, disagreements and weaknesses instead of building them up, honoring them and encouraging them in the Lord.
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 (ESV)
As one who absolutely affirms bold and provocative messages, I’m dismayed that so many who name the name of Jesus presume boldness equates to cruelty and divisiveness. Haters and debaters who are driven by a contentious agenda against those they disagree with are doing great damage to the church. Strangely, they presume to be the champions of truth, knights in shining armor who are to be celebrated for defending their absolutely “perfect” view of Scripture. They presume themselves to be Bereans when in reality they are aligning themselves with a dark spirit of accusation and assault. These are no Bereans. They are, in fact, Thessalonians.
THE SPIRIT OF THE BEREANS VS THE SPIRIT OF THE THESSALONIANS
2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. Acts 17:2-3 (NIV)
In Thessalonica, Paul was reasoning in the synagogue and revealing the glorious truth of Jesus. Some were persuaded, but many weren’t, and instead of exhibiting love in disagreement, they started a riot. This riotous spirit is driving the religious today, people who are not at all interested in life-giving truth. Their motive is selfish, protecting their own way of life and belief system.
5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. Acts 17:5 (NIV)
I think I’ve met some of the bad characters the verse mentions. They are all over Facebook. In the face of this, Paul and Silas moved on to Berea.
10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Acts 17:10 (NIV)
Many presume the Bereans heard the message and then, with a nasty, suspicious look on their face and thick theological walls built up, they put their noses into the Scriptures, looking to refute all that was being said. This is not what happened at all. Many modern “Bereans” are some of the meanest, most arrogant and unteachable people in the church. They are so tightly wound up, fearing even the slightest threat to their personal doctrines that they often slander and accuse people they oppose. This is not how the Bereans in the Book of Acts responded. Not at all.
11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 (NIV)
Did you notice that the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians? Did you notice why? They received the message not with great suspicion, but with great eagerness! They were excited about this fresh, life-giving message that Paul was revealing to them! Their energy wasn’t spent discounting the message but rather in searching the Scriptures to see if it was true.
Because of this, many Jews and Greeks were transformed.
The story doesn’t end there, however.
13 When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. Acts 17:13 (NIV)
The Thessalonians actually went to Berea to hunt down Paul and agitate the people because of his message!
I propose many who assume themselves to be Bereans are actually Thessalonians—people who are more intent on hunting, agitating and stirring up instead of eagerly receiving revelation from the Word of God.
When engaging in conversation, especially online on social media or in the comments section of articles like this one, simply be nice. Discussions and healthy debates are supposed to be fun and edifying!
I try to make it a point to address false theologies while never assaulting the minister. I know, there are many who would argue that there are times in Scripture where false teachers were named and they were addressed quite bluntly. Yes, there absolutely does come a time to do that, but it is not as often as many might presume—and it’s always in a spirit of great love.
I do my very best to honor all, even if I believe their theology is way off. What benefit is there in being rude, arrogant or aggressive toward them as a person? When I engage in discussions on Facebook or other places online, a core value of mine is to be nice. I never want the person I’m engaging with to feel like I’m attacking them or that I presume to be superior. While I will boldly communicate my position, I don’t want anybody who might disagree to feel unsafe or devalued. They are precious people created in the image of God. Yes, if they pose a risk because of their doctrine, we must deal with that. But, it’s usually more beneficial to attack beliefs than to call out and defame people.
If I’m not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit in my conversation, I should not be communicating at all. It’s time to shut off the computer and head into the prayer room. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control should dominate our discussions.
Quit calling everyone you disagree with a heretic. Quit commenting on articles like this one with the sole intent of exposing the author as deceived, false or in some sort of error. Share your perspective. Offer your point of view. Reveal your concerns. Be teachable. Communicate with honor and humility without abdicating your mandate to be a true Berean. Your eagerness to receive truth will open the door for many to believe in Jesus.
Please understand, I have thick skin. By the grace of God I’m nearly unoffendable. When people are aggressive toward me personally when I write or preach, I honestly don’t take offense. Reading mean tweets and comments can be entertaining and even enlightening. I understand the messages I’m called to deliver are provocative and I do know the arrows will fly.
But, I will say this. As someone who is deeply troubled when other preachers and prophetic people are attacked simply because of a disagreement over their theology or style of ministry, I want to simply ask you to be nice. Don’t aim your arrows in their direction. Understand the accusations and cruel things you say don’t only hurt them, but they hurt their spouses and children. Do you have any idea how many tears wives have cried because their husbands are mercilessly assaulted by others in the church through gossip and all over the internet? This is a very real and terribly sad problem, and it simply shouldn’t be.
Let love lead. Be kind. Be gentle. Be patient. Be bold. Stand for truth. Don’t hate. Be tender in your debate. Put the arrows down and simply love.